On Friday October 24 I spoke at a conference at Duke Law School on “The Future Environmental Agenda: Environmental Law and Policy Challenges Facing the Next President.” The conference was the 2008 Symposium of Duke’s Environmental Law & Policy Forum. It featured a terrific collection of speakers who addressed the environmental agenda at the international level and with respect to natural resources law and pollution control. I was on the pollution control panel along with former EPA general counsel Don Elliott, Environmental Defense Fund assistant general counsel Vickie Patton and Professor Noah Sachs from the University of Richmond. There was a lively debate over whether cap and trade or carbon tax approaches were the best policy for responding to global warming and climate change.
I made a presentation on “Presidential Transitions and the Environment.” Reviewing transitions the Carter administration to the present, I noted that while it once was considered presumptious for a presidential candidate to start transition planning prior to the election, it now has become essential to do so. I argued that the notion of a “honeymoon” for a new administration was largely a myth since there have been so many instances where opponents try to test a new administration, often derailing important administration initiatives. More information about the symposium can be obtained at: http://www.law.duke.edu/journals/delpf/symposium.
Unfortunately the Duke conference coincided with a terrific Maryland conference on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The conference featured presentations by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, former South African Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson, and South African Constitutional Court Justice Bess Nkabinde. Because I was at Duke I missed the conference, but I was able to attend a talk by Mary Robinson today. After her presentation I asked her what the new U.S. President could do to restore its tarnished human rights reputation. She recommended that the new President immediately announce a policy of “no torture and no renditions,” close Guantanamo, and reengage with the UN Commission on Human Rights.
On Friday, October 24, the European Union (EU) approved a cap of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from airlines flying into or out of the EU. Citing the global economic turmoil, the director general of the International Air Transport Association denounced the new regulations, which he claimed would cost airlines $4.4 billion. The regulations take effect on January 1, 2012. Mindful of the potential economic impact of the regulations, the regulations allow start-up airlines and airlines growing faster than 18% a year to qualify for the issuance of a limited supply of additional fre permits.